New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday did not take up the issue of 61 coal blocks alloted to private companies such as Tata Steel, JSPL and Hindalco, which have been unable to develop the mines within the stipulated timeframe.
"It (the agenda for modification in directions of the CCEA taken on January 13 pertaining to 61 blocks) has not been taken up for discussion," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting.
Another Minister said the issue could not be taken up due to paucity of time.
The CCEA, as per sources, was to modify its directions on these blocks which have been issued notices for not starting production.
In its last meeting on January 13, CCEA had directed the Coal Ministry to "propose the criteria for dealing with the identified 61 cases of coal blocks allocated to private companies in pursuance of the recommendations of the screening committee for vetting by the Attorney General of India".
It has also asked the ministry to "issue notices to all concerned including the state governments, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the project proponents to submit their views within three weeks" and "based on the response from them the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) will make its recommendations and the competent authority will take a final decision".
The details of modifications could not be obtained.
Meanwhile, IMG on coal blocks will meet on February 7-8 to decide the fate of these 61 mines.
The IMG under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary, Coal, will consider replies along with documents furnished by coal block allocatees in response to the notice issued.
The cases of allocatees which are required to obtain forest clearance (stage II) will be taken up subsequently.
In the two-day meeting, IMG will consider replies of 29 coal blocks of companies like Tata Steel, JSW Steel and Bhushan Power and Steel on February 7.
On February 8, the replies of the remaining 32 coal blocks alloted to firms like Monnet Ispat and Energy and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) will be considered.
The government had earlier decided to deallocate all the captive coal blocks which have not obtained environment and in-principle forest clearances and had issued show-cause notice to allocatees of 61 such mines.
The development followed the Supreme Court's posing some tough queries on allocation process for coal blocks and questioning the Centre over the functioning of the screening committee that made allotment recommendations.
Coal blocks, which are unexplored or partially explored at the time of allocation and where prospecting licence (PL) has not been obtained, will also be cancelled, it had said.
The allocatees have been given time till February 5 to obtain the requisite clearances and produce proofs supporting approvals.
First Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014, 16:08